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WASHINGTON – Past its own New Year’s deadline, a weary Congress sent President Barack Obama legislation to avoid a national “fiscal cliff” of middle class tax increases and spending cuts late Tuesday night in the culmination of a struggle that strained America’s divided government to the limit.

The bill’s passage on a bipartisan 257-167 vote in the House sealed a hard-won political triumph for the president less than two months after he secured re-election while calling for higher taxes on the wealthy.